We were not automatons, no matter how much they wanted us to be. Well, I wasn’t, anyway.
We all wore the same clothes, we all had the same coloured hair and eyes, we all had similar facial features. We were Hitler’s chosen-race army of the future.
Marching: monotonous, dreary, thudding footsteps. Synchronised, like the seconds ticking, ticking, ticking away. A countdown. To what, I don’t know. But my blood is gurgling, burbling, bubbling.
My exterior is a mask of concentrated calm, hiding the toxic fumes waiting to pour out. I sneak glances out of my periphery, seeing an endless sea of blue, with flashes of red and gold. I am sick of these endless marching exercises. Sick to my gut. Every day, mindless marching, dribble injected into our brains, subconscious attempts to make us conform.
It has been six years, I think, since they stole me away in the night. Six years since the world changed. Or, did I? One’s view, after all, is their take on the world. Six years since I last read a book. Too long, in any case.
A whistle blows. End of exercise. I trudge back to my quarters, ready to be mindlessly educated for two hours before the evening exercise commences.
No talking is tolerated. No communication of any kind. Even eye-contact. I don’t know how they know if we make eye-contact, but they know. No one’s dared to try, anyway.
We remain in the same formation all the way until we enter the inner courtyard, where groups break off to their respective ways.
Two hours in front of a screen is mind-numbingly dull. I can’t even remember what I saw. We exit our room, the ten of us, and get a chance to go to the toilet, and wash our face and hands. Ten identical cubicles opposite ten identical sinks. No mirrors. I have only ever used the one second from the left, the next to closest to the door. We exit in single file, one after another, heads down.
I have a plan, not to escape, at least, not physically, but to free my mind. Ease my conscience, if you will. I just need to see if it will work.
A whistle blows just as the last in our group exits. We belong to each other, but I have no idea who they are, and I certainly couldn’t pick any of them out of a line. Truth be told, I don’t know what I look like. The only people I belong to – I don’t know who they are or what they look like.
Okay, so I give myself one-hundred steps once we start marching, until I will carry out my plan. I don’t care if it gets me killed, or beaten to a pulp. I don’t know what the punishments are in this place, but I’m not afraid to incur them. I just need to break the conformity. We weren’t made to be the same. It’s just not right!
We assemble into formation, waiting for the whistle. It goes off. One-hundred, ninety-nine. I have to give us all time to get into the rhythm, the dull, loud beat of homogeneity. A face appears, for no reason, in my mind. My mother. She was a poet, and I think she instilled in me a love for words, a need for reading. I haven’t read anything for so long. Seventy-three, seventy-two.
My father’s face follows hers, my train of thoughts turned to the family I used to have. It’s hard to believe they ever existed. At any rate, he is a memory that I haven’t looked at for so long that it physically aches. My heart thumps painfully. Thirty-seven, thirty-six.
Here I am distracting myself! Come on, concentrate. And before I know it: ten, nine, you can do it, six, five, gather my willpower, two, one.
I stop, dead still in my tracks. I was hoping to disrupt the flow, be bumped into by a hundred others behind me. But we’ve all stopped, all at the same time. Maybe I misheard a whistle through the pounding of my heart. I turn my head, craning my neck trying to see past the…past the, past the other turned heads and craned necks. I look behind me in bewilderment, and see the slightly delayed reaction of every one else turn their heads with the same wild momentum that I just had.
I reach my hand up, testing a wave, uncertain about what was happening. Sure enough, every single person there reached their hands up and tested a wave. In complete uniformity, we had rebelled.